That’s why we’re here.
Climate Interactive is a not-for-profit organization based in Washington DC. Our team helps people see what works to address climate change and related issues like energy, health, food security, and disaster risk reduction. Our easy-to-use, tangible, scientifically-grounded tools as well as our programs for engagement help people see for themselves what options exist today to shape the future they want to see.
How we work
We inspire audiences to understand and act on our current challenges by leading and disseminating interactive role-playing games like World Climate and World Energy, creating a visual tool to help people understand the UN climate pledges, and teaching system dynamics, systems thinking, and organizational learning.
We help organizations and governments improve their strategies, such as mapping how policymakers can improve health and jumpstart the economy while also reducing climate change and modeling ways to improve food security and adapt to climate change with climate-smart agriculture.
When it comes to helping people understand the big picture and see what works to address our biggest challenges, we draw on a suite of approaches, many of them developed at MIT in the fields of system dynamics and organizational learning. Our team benefits from decades of experience and mentorship from leaders like Dana Meadows, John Sterman and Peter Senge.
We start with a belief in people
We believe that when people learn by experiencing rather than being told the facts, they gain a deeper understanding of a challenge and the best ways to address it.
And we believe that, with the right information and experience, people will take the actions necessary to create a future in which we all can thrive.
So our tools, simulations, and trainings are all designed to make people better at understanding and more effective at addressing the complex, interconnected challenges we face. Our approaches help people to:
- Focus on Leverage. After using our simulations people understand, at a deep level, which policies and strategies are more likely to make a big impact.
- See The Big Picture. Often people can only drill down into one area of a complex human/natural system. Our simulations help people see the whole picture and watch it play out over the long-term.
- Learn. When people ask customized “What If” questions and get immediate answers, they build their capacity to act on their insights.
- Communicate Effectively. Teams develop graphs, messages, powerful numbers, and overall communication that enroll other in effective action.
- Ground Conversations. Our simulations bring scientific and economic rigor to group workshops and strategic discussions.
- Stitch Together Analyses. For many complex issues, people will often have access to a number of different sources of numerical and technical analysis. Our modelers integrate and summarize the relevant information and make it useful to the challenges at hand.
Climate Interactive was founded by Drew Jones and Beth Sawin at Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute) in 2005.
Five roots undergird our efforts:
- The vision of Dana Meadows. Prof. Meadows was a longtime mentor to several our staff and an advocate for the approach at the core of Climate Interactive: combine scientifically-grounded analysis with advanced learning technologies and a positive vision for a sustainable world.
- System Dynamics simulation modeling at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Much of our staff are MIT-trained system dynamicists. Our work builds on the global modeling work at MIT in the early 1970s, John Sterman’s ~1979 MIT PHD dissertation on energy dynamics, and Tom Fiddaman’s (now of Ventana Systems) 1997 MIT PhD dissertation on his integrated assessment model, NICE.
- Commitment to “open architecture sharing.” As described here, Marv Adams, Mike Richards, Peter Senge (MIT/SoL), Michelle Erickson (Erickson Strategies), Chris Johnson (ifPeople), Drew Jones (Climate Interactive), John Sterman (MIT) and others envisioned a way to impact the world with accessible simulation models by making them available for adaptation and extension.
- Investment in contexts and settings for learning. Work at MIT, Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute), and other institutions has built our capacity to create simulation interfaces, role-playing policy exercises, and workshop approaches that help people generate actionable insights from their interaction with simulations and other thinking tools. More specifically, simulation exercises such as the Beer Game, Strategem, and FishBanks Ltd. by Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows, John Sterman and others, have set us up to design the World Climate Exercise. Further, advancements in how to channel grief and despair about climate futures into productive action by Beth Sawin and Phil Rice in Sustainability Institute’s “Our Climate Ourselves” program has informed our approaches.
- Engagement in climate, sustainability, energy, and resilience strategy at national and international levels.